Ricoeur’s Confession

“To confess that one is a listener is from the very beginning to break with the project dear to many, and even perhaps all, philosophers: to begin discourse without any presuppositions. . . . Yet, it is in terms of one certain presupposition that I stand in the position of a listener to Christian preaching: I assume that this speaking is meaningful, that it is worthy of consideration, and that examining it may accompany and guide the transfer from the text to life where it will verify itself fully.

“Can I account for this presupposition? Alas, I stumble already. I do not know how to sort out what is here ‘unravelable’ situation, uncriticized custom, deliberate preference, or profound unchosen choice. . . . But if what I presuppose precedes everything I can choose to think about, how do I avoid the famous circle of believing in order to understand and understanding in order to believe? I do not seek to avoid it. I boldly stay within this circle, in the hope that, through the transfer from text to life, what I have risked will be returned a hundredfold as an increase in comprehension, valor, and joy.”

Paul Ricoeur, “Naming God,” 215.

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